As much as we like travelling and shopping overseas, a factor that could put a dent into our finances is high foreign currency exchange rates.
I always used to head to Change Alley in Raffles Place and join the queue of whichever money changer had more people. But honestly, I wasn’t exactly sure if there was really much difference between the many money changers competing with each other.
Then in recent years, we’ve seen lots of fintech companies offering multi-currency wallets such as Wise, YouTrip, Revolut, Instarem Amaze, etc., offering foreign exchange rates cheaper than what we’d usually get.
Now, there’s a new player on the scene that promises even lower rates that can help customers save up to 5% on overseas spend compared to credit cards.
That’s iChange, a new app by Singapore-based fintech company, IBV. iChange touts itself as the world’s first money changer marketplace. It offers currency exchange, remittance, and multi-currency wallet services.
iChange Review 2023
- What are the features of iChange?
- How to use iChange
- Should I download iChange?
- Can iChange lead to substantial savings?
- iChange TLDR
1. What are the features of iChange?
Here’s how the different features on iChange work:
The money changer marketplace compares exchange rates from multiple money changers to get the best rate for you. You can then instantly exchange up to 40 currencies. It supposedly gives the best exchange rates compared to other competitors currently in the market, and is much lower than using your credit card overseas.
Multi currency wallet
Store your different currencies in your wallet after exchanging them. You also get a digital and physical card, supported by Mastercard.
Remittances and payments
iChange provides remittance services, allowing you to send money overseas to loved ones. You can also make local and international bill payments for things such as electricity, telco, healthcare and insurance.
2. How to use iChange
Once you’ve downloaded the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, you’re required to sign up for an account.
Registration is pretty straightforward, although you have a few steps to go through, which include keying in 2 OTPs sent to your mobile and email before verifying your identity with Singpass or keying in your particulars, including occupation and average monthly salary.
I got a confirmation text pretty immediately after, telling me that I could send money overseas and top up my account with a maximum of $5,000.
The next page takes you to where you can request for an iChange debit Mastercard free of charge. Delivery is also free.
When all that’s done, you’re taken to your default dashboard, the Wallet tab, where you can easily see how much money you have in your wallet, and the main functions of what you can do—Scan a QR code, Send money, or Exchange money. It also shows the transactions you’ve done, including my first request for a debit card.
There’s also a handy WhatsApp button at the bottom right that takes you to a chat directly with iChange, which is a plus point because you can speak to a customer service person directly and don’t have to deal with irritating AI bots that can’t understand your request.
Before you can do anything, you have to top up your wallet first. The top-up function is relatively straightforward, letting you top up through either PayNow, bank transfer or 7-11. PayNow or bank transfer (either ibanking or at an ATM) are relatively straightforward—you just screenshot the QR code and use your PayNow app to transfer money.
What I liked was that topping up your wallet via a bank account doesn’t incur any fees, which isn’t the case with some other platforms. Plus point for iChange here.
Clicking the 7-11 function shows you a QR code which you have to present to the counter staff physically at an outlet.
I also tested out some of iChange’s main services:
The currency exchange, iChange’s main unique selling point, lists over 40 currencies that you can convert to. When you choose the currency you want, you immediately see the best rate at the top.
However, there are only a total of 6 money changers for comparison. I’m not sure how the ‘best’ rate is derived. Is there some aggregation going on behind the scenes?
You also have the option of collecting your exchanged currency from your selected money changer within the hour. This gives those the option of getting the cash in hand especially if they’re going to countries that rely more on cash and don’t use cards much.
Sending money overseas
When I tried this option, a menu popped up showing the available 6 countries I could send money to which include Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
You can also choose the Collection Mode for your recipient to receive the money, whether it’s from a bank account, cash pick up, mobile wallet or eWallet.
I guess it’s still limited for now so if you want to send money perhaps to Vietnam or Myanmar, you’re out of luck.
Under the Pay Bills tab, you can see a drop-down menu of 11 countries that you can make payments to.
For Singapore, you can only pay your local telco. When I clicked Indonesia, there were more options to pay for different services such as telco, utilities and insurance. Most places only offer telco payments with the exception of India and the Philippines where you could also pay for your cable and satellite TV.
So unless you’re paying for your overseas relatives’ mobile plans, I don’t think this function would be used by many.
Security and privacy
The 2-step verification process via email and SMS at the start seemed a bit excessive but hey, at least they’re testing that you are you. Using SingPass to verify your identity also means that it has the proper Know Your Customer process in place.
The app, however, does inform you and requires you to turn on your location settings so that it shows you the nearest iChange store to exchange money.
With regards to regulations, iChange’s wallet is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, so there’s reassurance there.
A positive thing to note is that iChange also informs the user what purpose it’s collecting data for—e.g. for payment services and user identification.
3. Should I download iChange?
Compared to traditional money changers, iChange finds the one with the best rates for you so you can immediately change your money. No more going around to different money changers at Change Alley to look for the cheapest rates.
Not to mention, the convenience of changing your money immediately via your mobile is definitely an edge over going down to a physical money changer.
In comparison to credit card forex rates, iChange is definitely cheaper and doesn’t add the hefty conversion fee that the banks here charge, which is around 1%.
However, in comparison with other foreign currency exchange apps in Singapore, namely YouTrip and Wise, revealed that the rates were more or less the same, only differing by 0.1.
What gives iChange an edge over the others is its overseas payments and bill payments function.
4. Can iChange lead to substantial savings?
With barely any difference in the exchange rates, it’s unlikely that you’ll be saving much. It’s more worth it if you are regularly paying/transferring money overseas and need to transact in a foreign currency, or if you’re changing huge amounts of money at once. But for the occasional traveller, the difference in rates is not that noticeable.
5. TLDR; Get iChange if you absolutely must have the lowest exchange rates and have to frequently transact in foreign currency
The iChange app is free to use so there’s absolutely no harm in giving it a try if you’re thinking of getting a multicurrency wallet. What’s more, there’s no charge to get the debit card at all so you can get a new card for free.
It’s worth it if you foresee yourself consistently making payments in a foreign currency and sending money overseas to the listed countries. But if you’re already a regular user of other multi-currency wallets, you may not see the need to switch to iChange, unless you’re determined to get the lowest exchange rate fee.
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